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Elina Lampinen: “Life is all about choices and I just made the best one when I moved here”

Elina studied International Relations and European-Asian Studies at TalTech. She moved from Finland to Estonia 8 years ago and decided to stay here to do her Master’s degree. It’s been a long journey and she told us about her experience studying and living in Estonia.

Graduation day

Where does your passion for international relations and regional studies come from?

I chose IR because my dream is to become a diplomat. It has been my dream for as long as I can remember, even though it was not my first pick when I was a child. Back then I wanted to be an Egyptologist. Thus, one could say I have always been attracted to other cultures, history and their way of being who they are. I lived in China before starting my studies at the university and that’s why I wanted to learn more about “European-Asian” studies.

Have you applied your knowledge and skills to your work since graduating?

I currently work as a Human Resources Business Partner (HR BP) and a lot of my work is naturally connected with management. My colleagues are situated in various countries such as India, Russia, Finland and Romania. Therefore, knowing about other cultures has certainly become handy. My courses and knowledge about negotiation and communication have definitely helped me manage the workload. The fact that my curriculum was fully in English was the biggest advantage in a long run (I never thought I’d say this, since that was the only thing that made me hesitate if I even was capable of doing the master’s). It’s funny how things change.

Estonia is located just next to Finland and these days you can even see Helsinki skyline from Tallinn TV tower. How would you describe your first year of living in Tallinn?

My first year living in Tallinn was way back in 2012. The city was pretty different back then. Moving here from Finland was easy, but getting used living here back then was not as easy as it is today. Everyone kept on asking me “why Tallinn?” as if it was hardly a good option. Now I get responses like “oh I envy you, I love Tallinn. The bars, restaurants, culture, Kalamaja area, Old town, Ülemiste shopping ahhh”. And what can I say, life is all about choices and I just made the best one when I moved here 💎I really cannot find many negative aspects of living here. I used to have issues with a different customer service culture though. You would hardly get a ”hello” from a cashier and they never really looked at you or smiled. Sometimes my friends think I am rude while, for example, shopping in Finland, because I rarely smile now or say Hi to anyone. That’s a habit that kind of grew into me thanks to 8 years in Estonia :) Estonian language is also one of my favourite languages nowadays! I learned it pretty quickly (it’s definitely easier for a Finnish speakers, since our languages are so similar).

What were your favourite subjects at the university?

All my favourite subjects were taught by one specific professor, who could make even the driest topic seem very interesting, he explained everything in a very unique and an easy way to understand. I remember taking all the subjects that he was teaching just because I really enjoyed his way of teaching and those were the courses where I learned things that I can still remember. Additionally, my Chinese language courses were very useful for me as well.

Were you able to follow your hobbies and engage in student life during your studies at TalTech?

Each Friday was a day off from the university, so our weekend started on Thursday and we all know what that means for a student. We went to movies almost each Tuesday, since on that day the ticket price was below 4 EUR. I usually went to gym before classes, since most of them started only around 12–1 pm. That’s when I also fell in love with body pump training!

After some partying time with my fellow students, I enjoyed a quiet relaxing walk in my favourite park, Kadriorg, breakfast in one of the many cool brekkie places and then off to studying. Those were my weekends. Thus, my MA studies period was well-balanced between free time and studying. And of course, I was one of the active Student Ambassador for a while.

With Student Ambassadors

Have you thought about doing a PhD degree in future or you would rather continue with the professional career?

I have thought about it, however first I’d like to gather some professional experience for my CV before going back to the school bench. A good balance is healthy in this as well️!

If you arrived to Tallinn now, what place would you visit first?

Due to Corona epidemic I’d still be a bit alerted about living the “normal” life, however if the times were normal I would do: 1️. A spa ️day! (for example, Mustamäe Elamus Spa is very close to the university campus); 2) Movie marathon @ Coca-Cola Plaza (this is what we used to do, watching several movies in a row on the same day); 3. I’d visit lots of restaurants & bakeries! My my list for these places is too long, since I hardly ever cook myself and I mostly eat outside. Balti jaama turg, Telliskivi and the whole Kalamaja area are full of crazily unique and good restaurants, bakeries and of course pubs/bars! Which reminds me of: 4. Pubs/bars/clubs - I cannot list all of them, but as a student you’ll get familiar with the oldies but goodies and you’ll also find a bunch of new interesting ones. Thus, soon you can advise me on those yourself! So, I’m counting on you ❣️

The article is part of the series: “TalTech Alumni Stories”.
Stay tuned for more interviews with our graduates.

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